I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Primavera


The temperatures start to rise, we begin to shed a few layers of clothes that we piled on through the winter. And then we realize maybe it's time to shed a few pounds we added during the colder months as well.

It is easy to put on a bit of weight during the cooler season as we fill up on hearty dishes and comfort food and cuddle up on the couch for hours to stay warm. Luckily spring helps make it easy to drop those unwanted pounds. Sunny, warm days lend themselves to long walks, and spring produce starts to pop up to encourage lighter, fresher eating.

After an over-indulgent weekend trip with friends to Woodstock (think a stop by Sonic, homemade personal pizzas, skillet chocolate chip cookies and far too much candy) I was especially in need of a detox this week. To counter-balance the quantities of bad food I'd taken in it was time to respond with a meal full of veggies. Yet I wasn't ready to give up on the comfort. Spaghetti squash was the answer. After roasting its tender flesh transforms into pasta-esque shreds which are the base for a vegetable strewn dish.

It's so easy to adjust this based on whatever you have on hand: spinach, mushrooms, or cherry tomatoes would make a welcome addition. Regardless of your vegetable mix-in decisions your taste buds will feel indulged as your waste line says thank you.

Spaghetti Squash Primavera
serves 6 or so as entree

1 spaghetti squash
olive oil
salt
pepper
1 bundle of asparagus
4 TB butter
2 zucchini, chopped
1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped

Heat oven to 425.
Cut the spaghetti squash in half and clean out the seeds. Rub with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Roast until the flesh is tender and easily shredded with a fork, about 45 minutes-1 hour (depending on size).
Meanwhile, blanch the asparagus: Bring a large pot of water to a boil, toss in the asparagus and boil for 30-90 seconds (depending on diameter of stalks). Drain and drop the asparagus into ice cold water. Once completely cool, chop into 1" pieces.
Once the squash is cooked and cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh.
Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the zucchini and cook until just tender, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the asparagus and the sun dried tomatoes and cook for 30 seconds more. Toss in the spaghetti squash and cook until heated through. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Roasted Baby Artichokes

How quickly the mind can shift if you give it a chance to be open. Listen, explore, don't take everything you see at its word.

In recent years I've read books and articles that led me to believe one thing about my food and where it comes from and where it should come from. Yet over the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to chat with students, farmers, professors that open my sights to the other side of things and show me a wider angle. Not that what I believed was all wrong or what they say is all right, but I've come to see how the truth must lie down the center somewhere. A thing I must seek out on my own, letting my heart feel its way to its own conclusion.
I won't bore you with the specifics--I'm still figuring it all out for myself anyhow. Yet I urge you that when you read or hear something about the food you are putting into your body, be willing to listen yet don't let it become your personal truth without a little digging first. Be open to both sides, knowing there are personal motivations clouding each angle. One story on the 6 o'clock news or one article in the Sunday paper shouldn't have full sway over your diet with just a whim. Step back and try to take in the full view before jumping down that bunny hole.

Roasted Baby Artichokes
Trying to keep myself open to all sides in a debate--to be well informed before making a decision--carries over to what foods I put on my dining table. I force myself to try things I think I may not like or that I haven't liked in the past. This has opened me up to many ingredients and dishes that would have been closed to me otherwise. One such ingredient is the anchovy. Always touted for being "gross" or "weird" in circles I grew up in, it's come to be one of my favorite ways to add umami and depths of flavor to a dish.I'm thankful for my refusal to deny myself a taste of any sort of food. Here it helps pack a salty punch with capers in a bright topping for crispy, roasted baby artichokes.


serves about 6 as an appetizer
9 baby artichokes
1 t. salt
1 lemon, sliced
1 bay leaf
olive oil

1 can anchovies
2 t. capers
juice of 1 lemon
2 TB parsley, chopped
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

Prepare the baby artichokes. Here's a great guide from Saveur. Then cut the artichokes in half after cleaning and trimming.
Heat oven to 425.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the salt, sliced lemon, bay leaf, and halved artichokes. Boil until the artichokes are tender, around 15 minutes (depending on the size of the artichokes). Drain and then pat the artichokes dry once cool enough to handle.
Place the artichokes cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush each with just a bit of olive oil. Roast until they are slightly browned and crispy, about 25-20 minutes.
Meanwhile place the anchovies into a bowl and mash well. Stir in the capers, lemon juice, parsley, and extra virgin olive oil. Serve the anchovy sauce over the roasted artichokes.